Last updated: 9 December, 2013

Kurd rebels free Turkish soldiers seized in weekend unrest

Kurdish rebels freed on Monday four Turkish soldiers abducted in the southeast of the country in the worst flareup of violence since a fragile ceasefire nine months ago, a local security source said.

Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) torched the soldiers’ vehicle and seized the men on Sunday in a weekend of sometimes deadly clashes between Kurds and Turkish security forces.

“The soldiers were returned to the local authorities and are in good health,” the security source told AFP.

The kidnapping occurred in a rural area not far from Diyarbakir, the main city in mainly Kurdish southeastern Anatolia, during a wave of unrest following the killing of two Kurdish protesters on Friday night.

The latest incidents come after months of calm between the Turkish state and the PKK, which declared a truce in March following clandestine negotiations with the country’s spy agency.

However the process stalled after Kurdish rebels announced in September they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms.

The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and much of the international community, launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984 that has claimed about 45,000 lives.